Monday, March 31, 2014

Women in Blue by Joshua Reynolds 1723-1792

1756 Joshua Reynolds (English artist, 1723-1792) Suzanna Beckford

1756-7 Joshua Reynolds (English artist, 1723-1792) Mrs. Turnour

1757 Joshua Reynolds (English artist, 1723-1792)  Miss Elizabeth Ingram

 Joshua Reynolds (English artist, 1723-1792) Portrait of a Woman Possibly Lady Frances Warren

Joshua Reynolds (English artist, 1723-1792) Anne Dashwood

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Swiss artist Jean-Etienne Liotard 1702-1789 either adored chocolate or the chocolate serving girl

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789)  The Chocolate Girl 1743

Food historian Patricia Bixler Reber tells us in her blog Researching Food History - Cooking and Dining, that chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree.  Seed pods were picked, opened, & fermented for a few days, as they dried.  In the 18th-century, the beans were roasted in a pan, pot, or roaster on the hearth.  The shells were removed leaving the usable chocolate "nibs."  The nibs were ground down into a paste by using a stone or steel metate & mano or in a choclate mill.   Further grinding, conching, resulted in a smooth texture.

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss artist, 1702-1789)  Madame Liotard and her Daughter

Marylander Pat Reber shared 2 primary sources from the 1700s explaining chocolate preparation.  "The Cacao...a Seed...when they have been divested of their Shells by Fire, and are afterwards peeled, and roasted in a Bason, before a moderate Fire, they are pounded in a very hot Mortar. The Americans bruise them with an Iron Cylinder, on a flat Stone made very hot; they are then formed into a Paste, which is afterwards boiled with Sugar; and this is called plain Chocolate. But if it is to be enriched with a fine Odour, four Pounds of this Paste, and three of powdered Sugar, are worked together in a Mortar, or on some Stone..."  (Spectacle de la Nature. Noël Antoine Pluche. 1766)

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss artist, 1702-1789)  Le Petit Déjeuner

"The Cacao seeds are roasted like coffee...When the kernels are perfectly purified, they are pounded in a mortar of heated iron over burning charcoal, and thus reduced to a coarse paste, which is set to cool on a marble slab. A second rolling is bestowed with a steel cylinder on a smooth freestone, and as soon as the paste becomes sufficiently smooth, it is mixed with sugar in a hot basin and poured into tin moulds..."  (The Encyclopædia of Geography, Hugh Murray. Phila: 1837)

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) La Chocolatiere c 1744

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) La Chocolatiere

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Traditional Portraits of Women by Jean-Etienne Liotard 1702-1789

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss artist, 1702-1789)  Mademoiselle Louise Jacquet

In 2006, the Frick Collection presented the works of Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-1789), this artist's first in North America and one of his few anywhere.  The review in the New York Times asked, "Liotard? He's a specialty item now, but in his era, Enlightenment Europe, he was a smash success. Even then he was seen as a maverick, a figure of contradictions. He was Swiss, but interesting; he was a stone-cold realist in an age of rococo frills. He had ultra-fancy patrons — princes, a pope, Madame de Pompadour — but a provincial education. He was a vigorous mover; he rarely stayed in one place for long. But he wasn't a shaker: he sparked no new style, inspired no disciples.

 Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss artist, 1702-1789) La Belle Lectrice

 "His apartness was as much circumstantial as personal. He was born in Calvinist Geneva, far from a Parisan art world dominated by the fashions, politics and hierarchies of the Royal Academy. Rather than study history painting, the prestige genre, he started out as a portrait miniaturist, steady-income work. In a great age of oil paint, he was partial to pastel. But he also mastered enamel work, printmaking, watercolor and drawing, a true high-low mix.

 Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss artist, 1702-1789) Princess Louisa

"He had itchy feet. He worked in Paris for a while, traveled with a French patron to Italy, then with a British sponsor to Constantinople. Little of the art he did there survives, though the show of a European lady in elaborate native dress. Other artists might have made her exotic; under Liotard's clinical, detail-obsessed gaze she's an anthropological specimen.

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789 Empress Maria Theresa Archduchess of Austria

"...the large self-portrait, known as "Liotard With a Beard." Beards were out of fashion in 18th-century Europe. He had grown his while in Turkey. Long, full and unruly, it was a bold cosmetic statement and, it turned out, a public relations coup. Heads turned when he walked the streets of Paris. People called him the Turkish painter. Commissions piled up.

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Charlotte Marie Cazenove 1765

"He kept moving. He went to Vienna, where he established a working friendship with the Empress Maria Theresa. It says something about Liotard's character that he maintained long-term contact with this particular court, the most austere and least corrupt in Europe. And it says something about his gifts that the empress gave him the commissions she did.

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Jean-Etienne Liotard (1758-1822) 1760

"Other artists got to do big-gun official portraits, the kind that turned a pawky prince into Adonis or Zeus. Maria Theresa asked Liotard to draw portraits of her children, intimate pictures that a fond mother could carry on her travels. She had quite a brood, 16 children in all.

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Johanna Gabrielle, archiduchesse d'Autriche (1750-1762) 1762

"Whatever Liotard was paid for these pictures, it was too little. He poured every ounce of his talent into them. Each seamlessly blends several mediums: black and red chalk, pencil, pastel and watercolor. Details are executed with a watchmaker's precision. To give the figures a naturalistic glow, Liotard colored the reverse side of each thin sheet of paper. Marie-Antoinette is bathed in a rosiness that you sense rather than actually see.

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Lady Charles Tyrell (1705-1778) 1746

"The Vienna stays were harmonious interludes in larger journeys. Were Liotard working today, he would live in airports, waiting for the next flight to Venice, Milan, Darmstadt, Lyon. He spent two years in London, then two in Holland, where, at 54, he married. He shaved off his beard for the wedding. He didn't need it anymore. He was rich and famous, and ready at last to be a good Swiss householder.

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Pierre Lullin (1659-1762) 1762

"The portraits kept coming, of his growing family, of Genevan merchants and intellectuals. They are delightful, not just for their candor and skill but for their variety...and you discover that there was absolutely nothing he could not do with pastel.

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Lady with a Jonquil 1750-59

"But his kind of realism was veracity, not verismo. Facts were his strength; truth of observation his goal. He delivers breathtaking flourishes, but always contained within solid forms. For him exactitude is the rule; but this means flaws are unavoidable, his sitters' and his own.

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Amalia, archiduchesse d'Autriche (1746-1804) 1762

"Is his the face of the Enlightenment? Yes, and the Enlightenment at its best. It speaks of no sanctity, no pretension, no Fall, no fear, no ideology, no "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world." It says: The world is all right, period. And all wrong. All everything. And the artist — worker, entertainer, recorder — is happy to be here, wherever here is. For Liotard it seems to have been pretty much everywhere.

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Louise-Marguerite Marcet (1764-1788) 1785

"It is a concrete sense of hereness that makes his art refreshing. It makes every picture feel as if he approached it as his first and the last picture; as if no picture had a memory of any other; and as if each was an experiment, a flier to who knew where. Some took off; some didn't. He didn't fret over "great." He moved on to see what was next. He was wise that way, cool that way, modern that way."

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Antonia (Marie-Antoinette) archiduchesse d'Autriche (1755-1793) 1762

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Denis-Joseph La Live 1759

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Christine, archiduchesse d'Autriche (1742-1798) 1762

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Francois Tronchin (1713-1788) 1758

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Caroline, archiduchesse d'Autriche (1752-1814) 1762

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Elisabeth, archiduchesse d'Autriche (1743-1809) 1762

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Jean-Louis Maisonnet (1721-1812) 1755

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Josepha, archiduchesse d'Autriche (1751-1767) 1762

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Jeanne-Marie Liotard (1726-1789) 1752

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Marie Anna (Marianne), archiduchesse d'Autriche (1738-1789) 1762

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Marc Liotard de la Servette  (1783-1827) 1775

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Paul Girardot de Vermenoux (1739-1789) 1760-1770

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Marie-Therese Liotard (1763-1793) 1779

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Sophie de France (1734-1782) 1750-51

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Fredericke van Reede-Athlone at age 7

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Marie Jeanne Liotard (1761-1813) 1779

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Marie-Therese d'Autriche (1717-1780)

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Josepha of Saxony, Dauphine of France.

See Jean-Étienne Liotard, the Unrelenting Eye of the Enlightenment by Holland Cotter New York Times June 23, 2006

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Émile Bernard 1868-1941 & an amazing letter to him from van Gogh

1886  Émile Bernard (French artist, 1868-1941) Woman at Saint-Briac

Émile Henri Bernard is a French Post-Impressionist painter who had artistic friendships with Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, & Cézanne. Most of his best work was accomplished at a young age, in the years 1886 - 1900, and that is what I will show here.  But, as important  his work are his friendships & discussions with other artists.  A letter to him from van Gogh written in June of 1888, is shown below.

 1887 Émile Bernard (French artist, 1868-1941) Grandmother

1888  Émile Bernard (French artist, 1868-1941)  Madame Schuffenecker

1889  Émile Bernard (French artist, 1868-1941)  Boy in Hat

1895  Émile Bernard (French artist, 1868-1941) African Woman

 Émile Bernard (French artist, 1868-1941) Lady with a Fan oil on canvas

1900 Émile Bernard (French artist, 1868-1941)  Woman Smoking Hashish

1897 Émile Bernard (French artist, 1868-1941) Self-Portrait

Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles, 19 June 1888, Letter 7, page 1

"My dear Bernard,

Forgive me if I write in great haste; I fear that my letter won't be at all legible, but I want to reply to you right away.

"Do you know that we've been very foolish, Gauguin, you, and I, in not all going to the same place? But when Gauguin left, I wasn't yet sure of being able to leave. And when you left, there was that dreadful money for the fare, and the bad news I had to give about the expenses here, which prevented it. If we had all left for here together it wouldn't have been so foolish, because the three of us would have done our own housekeeping. And now that I've found my bearings a little more, I'm beginning to see the advantages here. For myself, I'm in better health here than in the north—I even work in the wheat fields at midday, in the full heat of the sun, without any shade whatever, and there you are, I revel in it like a cicada. My God, if only I had known this country at twenty-five, instead of coming here at thirty-five—In those days I was enthusiastic about gray, or rather, absence of color. I was always dreaming about Millet, and then I had acquaintances in the category of painters like Mauve, Israëls. Here's sketch of a sower.

"Large field with clods of plowed earth, mostly downright violet.

"Field of ripe wheat in a yellow ocher tone with a little crimson.

"The chrome yellow 1 sky almost as bright as the sun itself, which is chrome yellow 1 with a little white, while the rest of the sky is chrome yellow 1 and 2 mixed, very yellow, then.

"The sower's smock is blue, and his trousers white. Square no. 25 canvas. There are many repetitions of yellow in the earth, neutral tones, resulting from the mixing of violet with yellow, but I could hardly give a damn about the veracity of the color. Better to make naive almanac pictures—old country almanacs, where hail, snow, rain, fine weather are represented in an utterly primitive way. The way Anquetin got his Harvest so well.

"I don't hide from you that I don't detest the countryside—having been brought up there, snatches of memories from past times, yearnings for that infinite of which the sower, the sheaf, are the symbols, still enchant me as before.

"I don't hide from you that I don't detest the countryside—having been brought up there, snatches of memories from past times, yearnings for that infinite of which the sower, the sheaf, are the symbols, still enchant me as before.

"But when will I do the starry sky, then, that painting that's always on my mind? Alas, alas, it's just as our excellent pal Cyprien says, in "En ménage" by J. K. Huysmans, the most beautiful paintings are those one dreams of while smoking a pipe in one's bed but which one doesn't make. But it's a matter of attacking them nevertheless, however incompetent one may feel vis-à-vis the ineffable perfections of nature's glorious splendors.

"But how I should like to see the study you did at the brothel. I reproach myself endlessly for not having done figures here yet. Here's another landscape.11 Setting sun? Moonrise? Summer evening, at any rate.

"Town violet, star yellow, sky blue green; the wheat fields have all the tones: old gold, copper, green gold, red gold, yellow gold, green, red and yellow bronze. Square no. 30 canvas.

"I painted it out in the mistral. My easel was fixed in the ground with iron pegs, a method that I recommend to you. You shove the feet of the easel in and then you push a 50-centimeter-long iron peg in beside them. You tie everything together with ropes; that way you can work in the wind.

"Here's what I wanted to say about the white and the black. Let's take the Sower. The painting is divided into two; one half is yellow, the top; the bottom is violet. Well, the white trousers rest the eye and distract it just when the excessive simultaneous contrast of yellow and violet would annoy it. That's what I wanted to say.

"I know a second lieutenant of Zouaves here called Milliet. I give him drawing lessons—with my perspective frame—and he's beginning to make drawings—my word, I've seen a lot worse than that, and he's eager to learn; has been to Tonkin, etc. He's leaving for Africa in October. If you were in the Zouaves, he'd take you with him and would guarantee you a wide margin of relative freedom to paint, provided you helped him a little with his own artistic schemes. Could this be of some use to you? If so, let me know as soon as possible.

"One reason for working is that canvases are worth money. You'll tell me that first of all this reason is very prosaic, then that you doubt that it's true. But it's true. A reason for not working is that in the meantime canvases and paints only cost us money. Drawings, though, don't cost us much.

"Gauguin's bored too in Pont-Aven; complains about isolation, like you. If you went to see him—but I have no idea if he'll stay there, and am inclined to think that he intends to go to Paris. He said that he thought you would have come to Pont-Aven.

"My God, if all three of us were here! You'll tell me it's too far away. Fine, but in winter—because here one can work outside all year round. That's my reason for loving this part of the world, not having to dread the cold so much, which by preventing my blood from circulating prevents me from thinking, from doing anything at all. You can judge that for yourself when you're a soldier. Your melancholy will go away, which may darned well come from the fact that you have too little blood— or spoiled blood, which I don't think, however. It's that bloody filthy Paris wine and the filthy fat of the steaks that do that to you—dear God, I had come to a state in which my own blood was no longer working at all, but literally not at all, as they say. But after 4 weeks down here it got moving again, but, my dear pal, at that same time I had an attack of melancholy like yours, from which I would have suffered as much as you were it not that I welcomed it with great pleasure as a sign that I was going to recover—which happened too.

"Instead of going back to Paris, then, stay out in the country, because you need strength to get through this ordeal of going to Africa properly. Now the more blood, and good blood, that you make yourself beforehand, the better, because over there in the heat it's perhaps harder to produce it. Painting and fucking a lot are not compatible; it weakens the brain, and that's what's really damned annoying.

"The symbol of Saint Luke, the patron of painters, is, as you know, an ox; we must therefore be as patient as an ox if we wish to labor in the artistic field. But bulls are pretty glad not having to work in the filthy business of painting. But what I wanted to say is this. After the period of melancholy you'll be stronger than before, your health will pick up—and you'll find the surrounding nature so beautiful that you'll have no other desire than to paint. I believe that your poetry will also change, in the same way as your painting. After some eccentric things you have succeeded in making some that have an Egyptian calm and a great simplicity.

"How short is the hour
We spend loving—
—It's less than an instant—
—A little more than a dream—:
—Time takes away
—Our spell.

"That's not Baudelaire, I don't even know who it's by, they're the words of a song in Daudet's Le Nabab, that's where I took it from—but doesn't it say the thing like a real Lady's shrug of her shoulder? These last few days I read Pierre Loti's Madame Chrysanthème; it provides interesting remarks about Japan. At the moment my brother has an exhibition of Claude Monet, I'd very much like to see them. Guy de Maupassant, among others, had been there, and said that from now on he would often revisit the boulevard Montmartre.

"I have to go and paint, so I'll finish—I'll probably write to you again before long. I beg a thousand pardons for not having put enough stamps on the letter, and yet I did stamp it at the post office and this isn't the first time that it's happened here, that when in doubt, and asking at the post office itself, I've been misled about the postage.

"You can't imagine the carelessness, the nonchalance of the people here. Anyway, you'll see that shortly with your own eyes in Africa. Thanks for your letter, I hope to write to you soon at a moment when I'm in less of a hurry. Handshake,   Ever yours,  Vincent "

Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles, 19 June 1888, Letter 7
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Painted with Words: Vincent van Gogh's Letters to Émile Bernard
Available at the Morgan Museum and Library Website here
This website is full of amazing primary sources.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French artist, 1864-1901) Portrait of Emile Bernard

1888 Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). Self Portrait with portrait of Émile Bernard (French artist, 1868-1941) on the wall